Happy Feet Takes a Slap at Religious Establishment

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Missy and I watched the movie “Happy Feet” tonight. I am know I am probably behind the curve but I couldn’t help but notice the subtle slaps at Christianity and religious establishments in general. The upstart little penguin (Mumbles) bucks the elder penguin’s system. The elders say that if you try something new you doom the community to extinction. The elders demand repentance from Mumbles who refuses and says that he cannot change who he is. Of course, the young misguided penguin turns out to be correct and the elders wrong. Change is good and being different is a plus. The old fogey’s in the end wind up doing Mumble’s little dance because they realize it is superior to their now obsolete worldview that penguins should only sing.

I think this movie speaks volumes for how the 30s somethings view church and the religious establishment. It is a trend that is obsolete and needs to be bucked. The old guys don’t know what they are talking about (even though they owe their very existence to the penguin love song  that had been sung since the beginning of time). What answer do they find? Be who you are. Leave the pack and find your own answers.

These are the people we are trying to reach today and I think it is important that we meet them where they are and understand that they have not been satisfied with Christianity mostly because they really don’t understand it and may not have had good models of what the Christian life really looks like. The burden is on us to be authentic and to be honest about God and faith. They can see right past pretenses and are turned off completely by it. So let’s seek them out and approach them in all honesty and help them find God.

0 Responses

  1. I agree. Those who fight Christianity rarely understand Christ’s awesome message: Come, no matter who you are, come. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
    “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly of heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
    “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (KJV Matthew 11:28-30)”
    As for your interpretation of “Happy Feet,” I have not seen it, and so I am probably not the best judge. However, is the message anti-Christian, or merely nonconformist. Though both are a little cliche and seen altogether too much, there is a definite difference.

  2. You raise an important distinction. I think the rejection of established religion is a part of the larger picture of rejecting authority structures and “sources of truth” by the American culture as a whole.

    As far as Happy Feet goes, it does poke at least at religion in general if not Christianity as a whole. The washed up elders point to some “god” (I cannot remember what they call him) who is supposed to give them fish. The hints are certainly there. I would not call the entire movie “Anti-Christian.” It is pretty subtle and only in a few places.

  3. That is hilarious Tim! I am honestly not that upset by that aspect of the movie. I don’t really get all “in a tizzy” about those sorts of things. I just that it was pretty status quo for how many young adults view Christianity today.

  4. If I’m not mistaken, Mumbles was chased out of his community by a hungry seal. And the elders ostracized the young penguin and cast him out of the class where he was supposed to learn to socialize with the other little penguins. The elders were trying to preserve their “religion” by persecuting one of their own.

    You wrote: “I think this movie speaks volumes for how the 30s somethings view church and the religious establishment. It is a trend that is obsolete and needs to be bucked. The old guys don’t know what they are talking about (even though they owe their very existence to the penguin love song that had been sung since the beginning of time).”

    It is not the religious establishment to whom we belong, but it is Jesus Christ to whom Christians are owned. Whether it is in the form of a song, dance or whatever, the love and truth of Christ must be extended through the Christian to the non-believer.

    Jesus was persecuted by the leading proponents of the religious establishment of his time. Jesus and John called them a “brood of vipers,” “hypocrites,” etc. Some would argue that all the Pharisees were trying to do is preserve their own culture. Should a person humble themself to fundamentalism, tradition and culture? Or exclusivley to The Most High?

    It was only a couple of decades ago that pastors were preaching racism from the pulpit. Thank God there were people who chose not to bow to their rhetoric and chose to stand for justice and mercy in Christ’s name. Sometimes aspects of a system become infected and need to be “bucked.”

    I like your post. I just took a different view to the movie. God bless, brother.

  5. Storbakken,

    If I made it sound like we belong to elder then I misspoke. The sheep belong to their owner. The shepherds tend to them and are servants.

    I am also not saying that questioning authority is always a bad thing. I just think there is a lot behind this movie that relates to what we see in culture today.

  6. Amen to your comment about authentic Christianity. I agree that we need to relate to those we are trying to reach… but the best way to do that is to be real with them. I don’t care if you sing hymns or rock it out with modern worship on Sunday morning, if you’re not willing to be authentic, it won’t make a difference.

    I wonder how many people have walked into our churches today and left thinking no one in there could possibly understand their struggles… because they’re too perfect. Cookie cutter Christians who say all the right things, and yet are as broken and struggling as the seeker… the church should be the one place people can go to be vulnerable and honest about their struggles, so that they can be encouraged, corrected with the Word, receive counsel and find mercy, and yet so often it’s a place where seekers feel condemned or like they so don’t belong. I think it’s tragic.

    *climbs off soapbox* Thanks for the blog, Matt. Got me thinking… always a good thing. 🙂

  7. Good post, Matt, as usual. Haven’t seen Happy Feet, but would like to.

    Anyway, not to put words in your mouth; just from the other side, there are times when the church’s message gets rejected for all of the RIGHT reasons.

    I say that mostly for (and about) myself. There have been times when my assumption was that if the church just got itself and its message right, then worldwide acceptance of the gospel would be a cinch.

    But that view disregards the biblical teaching about unbelief. People exchange the truth of God for a lie. When they do, they are deprived of the truth. They become mockers and scoffers, something worse than hypocritical Pharisees who at least have some good deeds to go along with their stinking attitudes.

    Hollywood’s constant mocking of Christianity is its only way of deflecting the Truth announced only by the church. And we ARE weak, and pitiful, and hypocritical, and all of that. But to speak that truth is not the same thing as speaking the Truth to whom the whole world must answer.

    I don’t think you disagree (unless you do). Just got wound up.

  8. Great soapboxes. I think you two make some good points. Authenticity is making a comeback. Frank, you make a great point that our message is offensive to many and that is not necessarily a bad or negative thing.

  9. I thought back over my comment and wanted to make a clarification. I am in no way advocating watering down the gospel, or preaching only on the goodness of God. People don’t need to be saved from Hell, they need to be saved from SIN, and if they never hear about it, they won’t recognize their need for Jesus.

    I read over my post and thought, “You sound like you don’t want them to feel uncomfortable.” That’s not it… I’m all for conviction, I just want it to come from reading of the Word and from the Holy Spirit, and be based on God’s principles, not on the surface judgment of someone who can’t even admit their own struggles… and we all have them. Whether we’ll fess up to it or not.

  10. Sometimes I think we read to much into things and to things to seriously sometimes. Can we just watch a movie without having to read something into it? Can’t we just be entertained sometimes without so uptight.

  11. PM,

    Are you calling me uptight? Or am I just reading that into your comment?

    This one just struck me kind of funny (no pun intended). I think if you look hard enough you can think you found just about anything you want to find just about anywhere you want. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily make it so.

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